How To Article: Learning to Kiteboard – How to Get Started
Kiteboarding is the fastest growing extreme water sport, relatively easy to learn, and simple to setup, it is spreading quickly over the world. Kiteboarding allows the highest level of excitement, by harnessing the wind with a Traction kite, that is pulls the rider, through the water, on a kiteboard.
The Traction kite is a specialized kite made specifically for kiteboarding, which is connected to a control bar with 4 very strong lines about 20-30m in length. The kite creates large amounts of power to pull a person on the kiteboard, and allows them to jump and do tricks while airborne.
The kiteboard is a short, wakeboard-like or surfboard-like shape with straps. The rider’s feet are in the board’s straps as the kite pulls the rider along across the wind.
Kiteboarding uses the same principles as all wind related sports, such as Windsurfing, and combines the edging like wakeboarding. The main difference being the rider is independently controlling the Traction kite, and riding the kiteboard by “edgeding” it in the water to oppose the power of the kite.
Kiteboarding basically can be done where there is both wind and water. The recommended learning conditions are a steady, light-medium wind that is side-on angle to the shoreline.
Fresh or saltwater, the water should be free of obstacles and deep enough so you won’t hit anything when you fall in. Since beginners tend to go downwind, there should be adequate space to kiteboard, and then get out downwind onto the beach without obstacles.
Most people in decent physical shape, and are able to swim can learn to kiteboard. Kiteboarding is a sport where you can dragged strongly by the Traction kite, and can exert excessive stress on the shoulders and arms, as well as other parts of the body.
Developing better physical strength, learning properly, and conservatively, is recommended. Extra background skills that may help in the learning process are stunt kite flying, wakeboard or snowboard experience, and/or windsurfing skills.
Note of caution: Kiteboarding can be dangerous and students should seek professional instruction. Learn adequate safety about kites, and kiteboarding prior attempting kiteboarding by yourself.
Traction kites can drag or pick you up, which can result in injuries caused by obstacles on land, or in the water. Caution and safety must be emphasized at all times.
To begin learning to kiteboard, the first step is to understand the wind and how it works with the Traction kite. The best way to understand the wind, is to get an instructional video, such as “How To Rip”, by Ken Winner, and watch this multiple times.
The second step is to purchase or rent a 2 line stunt kite, such as the Slingshot B2 foil trainer. By practicing the techniques with the stunt kite, shown in the kiteboarding video, you will understand how to fly the kite, and how the wind affects the power and control of the kite.
After you have understood the video, and mastered the stunt kite, you are ready for a professional kite lesson. It is recommended to spend at least 5-10 hours flying the stunt kite.
The first kite lesson generally involves learning how to use an inflatable Traction kite safely. The lesson should cover the following: discussion of safe wind and weather conditions, assembling / hooking up the kite bar and lines to the kite, launching, body dragging in the water, landing, safety techniques, self rescue, and relaunching the kite. Once you have mastered the techniques in lesson one, you can move onto lesson two.
The next few lessons, generally involve advanced kite control, and getting on the kiteboard. In this lesson, the kite control must be good enough to keep the kite steady, and also to develop enough power when getting up and riding the board.
From lesson one, you learned to control the kite safely, to get on the board you must steady the kite to get your feet in the board’s straps. Then power dive the kite to get up on the board.
Once going, you learn how to power the kite such that you can stay up on the board and travel in a straight line in the water. You will also learn how to control the kite’s power with the 4 line kite depower system, referred to as the “chicken loop”.
Once you complete these lessons, and you have mastered the skills of handling the kite safely, launching, landing, and controlling the kite well, you can think about purchasing gear.
You will want to buy a medium aspect 4 or 5 line kite, that is of the appropriate size for your body weight and wind conditions. Consult your kite dealer to help you decide what size kite to buy.
Kiteboards range in different sizes, styles, and shapes and it might take some research on your part to decide which board to buy. Basically two board styles exist, the Directional, and the Twin Tip.
The Directional is more like a wakesurf boards or surf board shape with straps. The Twin Tip is more like a wakeboard with straps. Most beginners do well on a larger board, whether it be a twin tip or a directional style. There is also a hybrid board called Mutant, which combines aspects of both the directional and twin tip.
In conclusion, safety is the most important part of learning to kiteboard, getting professional instruction is essential to help prevent injuries, and to get kiteboarding efficiently.
Also, use of adequate safety gear is very important to consider, such as a helmet, a safety hook knife, and an impact vest or floatation vest. Location of learning to kiteboard is best done in a safe environment, free of obstacles, and gentle winds, such as Kailua Beach Park located in Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii. Kailua Beach is near perfect for learning to kiteboard. Gentle side-on tradewinds, with miles of sandy beach. Combine this with a huge, reef-protected bay, sandy bottom, and warm water and you’ve got a pefect learning environment.